Some New Evidence on the Role of Collateral: Lazy Banks or Diligent Banks?
In the banking literature (Manove et al. (2001)) "Lazy Banks" are defined as those banks that substitute project screening with collateral. This paper aims to test for Italy some empirical implications of the theoretical model of "Lazy Banks": the negative relationship between collateral and project screening, whether collateral is posted by safer borrowers and law enforcement is able to increase the degree of collateralization. Empirical evidence presented here suggests that, both for long-term loans and short-term ones, when project screening increases, the amount of real guarantees with respect to the credit granted increases. Moreover, the data show that collateral seems to be posted by high-risk borrowers and law enforcement does not matter in explaining the presence of real guarantees for long-term loans, whereas it represents a further risk component that generates an increase in collateral for short-term loans. Therefore, a model of "Lazy Banks" does not seem to be verified on the data, suggesting the results rather a sort of "diligence" in the banks' behavior. Furthermore, the empirical findings on our data reveal that the presence of real guarantees is not able to lower ex-post default credit risk. These results are consistent with a view of collateral as a credible mechanism for commitment against informative asymmetries and not as a convenient hedge against realized ex-post credit default risk.
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